10 Ways To Grow Your Senior Photography Business

What’s the easiest field to get started in as a professional photographer? While I’m sure I can get a dozen different answers, after a variety of conversations the last few weeks, my answer today is Senior Photography.

Every year around 4.3 million kids enter their senior year of high school [here in the U.S.] Which means about 4.3 million kids are in need of a high school senior portrait. How can youSenior Portraits get a small percentage of these students into your studio?

1. Advertise in school newspapers. Most schools have some sort of school newspaper. Ask for the editor, or teacher in charge of the process. Most have an ad rate – or you can offer a donation to put in your ad.

2. Advertise in community newspapers. Every school is in a small community that has a local newspaper. Place ad ad, and maybe even talk to the editor about an article on a local senior.

3. Start up a contest. Kids need a lot of things when transitioning from high school to college. Why not enter each portrait client into a drawing for gift certificates, money cards, iPods and even laptop computers.

4.  Set up buddy days. It’s fun to have portraits taken together. If two or more seniors set up a portrait on the same day, include a buddy portrait at no additional cost.

5. Teach a photography class at your local high school. Or have an after school club to help students become better photographers. Not all schools have photography classes in the curriculum – this is a great way to connect with potential seniors – and potential clients.

6. Build a website. Showcase every client you have. Seniors go where their friends go. Show them who’s come through your doors, and you’re more likely to gain more clients.

7. Set up a display at your local mall. Students spend a lot of time at the mall. So do their moms. Showcase your best work, and start the phone ringing.

8. Mail postcards. Yes, postcards still work, even in the Internet age. Put your best photos on display, get a mailing list of students in your area, and give them a reason to give you a call.

9. Ask last year’s seniors for a referral. Every senior has a friend or two that’s in the class below them.

10. Take out a display ad in the yearbook. Thank this years seniors, and wish them luck as they move on to college. Make sure you put your best photos from this year – to help you book next years’ seniors.

photo source GWPhotog

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clientexperience@todaysgrowthconsultant.com' About Virtual Photography

We're the co-founders of VirtualPhotographyStudio.com and have been writing on this blog since 2004. We started Virtual as a way to help photographers stretch beyond a part time income, and develop strategies to become a Five Figure Photographer or a Six Figure Photographer. Ultimately its all about lifestyle, and if your goal is to live as a photographer 24/7, we think you should have the knowledge and the tools to do so. Welcome!

  • Lori – I thought your name sounded familiar – you’re here in Denver! Saw your entry in the ProBlogger contest and was curious about senior photography … I thought for some reason it meant taking pictures of “older” folks. HA! Great title, and a great article that I have forwarded on to a photographer friend of mine.

  • Hi Lori! My studio is located in a very small town but there are two or three high schools within a ten mile radius and am the only photographer within that same radius or further. Try as I might, I Just can’t seem to break into this market! I’ve done everything you listed in your recent article, for the last 5 years, but see only minimal results. In comparing my work to others, I’m right there at the top or near the top depending on props. I don’t have a large expense account so props are minimal but I don’t think it’s all about props….or is it? Any ideas would be appreciated!

  • Virtual Photography

    Hi Stacey

    The one thing you didn’t mention is how much competition you have. Are they doing all 10 things as well? If so, how can you improve on the 10 things I mentioned above to capture more attention?

    Seniors are very clicky – if one goes to a photographer, so will their friends. The goal is to get a few of the popular kids into your studio, and use them in your promotion.

    Now is kind of late for photographing this years seniors, as most have their photo taken by September for yearbook inclusion [at least here in Colorado, I’m assuming it coincides with the school year in most other places as well]. But its a perfect time to plan for next year. Start creating your ads/postcards now, and send them out early to the juniors of this year. Change around the way you advertise – maybe you make a postcard with a senior photograph in a MySpace or Facebook profile. Think just a little differently – and attract the seniors because you make them say WOW.

  • Jim

    I dont think you want to teach a class….not if you are trying to lose business, because they think they now know how to take their own portrait. Now we have a surplus of people out there taking really bad shots and calling themselves a photographer because they had 1 class. I wonder why photography is the one profession they feel they need to train every one to do? Accountants dont do that because they are business smart. I know..I have too much business and I want to give away all the extra clients I could have by training in people in my area….
    We had a lady in town who gave a class and we now have 3 new studios in town because of her training…She has since closed her business due to lack of income….

  • Kayla

    “8. Mail postcards. Yes, postcards still work, even in the Internet age. Put your best photos on display, get a mailing list of students in your area, and give them a reason to give you a call.”

    And how do I go about GETTING these addresses? Most schools have a privacy policy in which they can’t simply give businesses their students’ place of living.

    If there IS a way, I would really like to know.

  • Kayla

    Yes there is a way. You need to work with a mailing list company that maintains these types of lists and will sell them to you to use for marketing.

    You can use a site like http://studentlists.com/ Or you can go with a full service postcard company like http://www.postcardmania.com/ who will handle everything from developing the postcard to mailing them for you.

    Lori